iComics - The Future of Comics Brought to You by PJ Holden and Al Ewing, With Their New Comic Murderdrome


Well, I guess I can talk about this now. Earlier this week, artist PJ Holden emailed me an Ashcan of his new comic, Murderdrome. I have mentioned this comic a couple of times on my weekly Trawling the Internets column, so I guess he thought I might be interested. When he sent it, he asked me not to reveal the plans until it was 100% finalized, but earlier this week it seems he couldn’t take it anymore, and just had to tell everyone. Here is what he wrote:

Gah! This is killing me!

Okay, I give in…

Murderdrome will be a four issue miniseries built around the iPhone/iPod touch platform. I’ll try and upload a video of how it works tonight, but, the gist is - you swipe left to right to read through the pages, you swipe down to move through layers of artwork - the top layer is colour, middle layer is inks the bottom layer is pencils (you’ll also be able to hide/reveal the lettering). Once completed there’ll be all sorts of ‘backmatter’ built right into the pages (youtube video of a particular page being drawn). Also, pet hate of mine, you won’t need to zoom in to the read the stuff - it’s built to fit exactly on the screen (and, at 163dpi, it’s very, very readable…)

Issue 0 is the freebie - we’ve submitted it to the app store this week and expect to hear in the next week or two. Issue 1, following as soon as we’re able, will be $1.99 - and be the equivalent of a 22 page comic, again, with backmatter. (and then issues 2,3 and 4)

If we sell 9k we’re going to make a decent wage (about $80 per page for the writer, $400 per page for the art/colouring/lettering)

If we sell above that then we’re laughing, since it’s creator owned.

There are, presently, five comics on the App Store - two japanese manga (both free), one ‘engrish’ manga ($2.99) and clickwheel.

Clickwheel have, as far as I can tell, three content streams (and I stand to be corrected):

2000AD material (which has been reformatted and makes for an awkward reading experience cus you’re constantly zooming to read and zooming out to see the art - but it’s high quality stuff)
Original, iPod designed material, which doesn’t - imho, match the quality of the 2000AD material
and… some animations, which aren’t comics. No matter whether they have word balloons or not. As soon as something moves, it’s not a comic.

In comparison, there are 150 or so books, all public domain (with a couple of exceptions) and priced around 99c

There are nearly 500 games. Ranging in price from 99c to $9.99 - so far some have predicted the App store to be a $1BILLION industry* next year. I suspect that’s way too optimistic, but I will say this:

Apple are on track to sell 10 million iPhones for the end of the year. EVERY ONE capable of going online and buying something, with no more effort than downloading a track from iTunes.

One person I know who has a simple game (asteriods clone) selling for 99c has sold 300 copies PER DAY.

Every company that has put an app on there and revealed figures has been startled at just how much money and how quickly it’s coming to them

I’ve spent plenty of money on stupid little apps because I just fancy them or like the look of them. I have NO qualms about throwing $1.99 away for a silly little 10 minute escape.

There is a drought of good, original reading material on the iPhone, but, I suspect, that’s going to change VERY quickly…


Here is the video he was talking about:

As I mentioned, PJ also sent me the ashcan for the 8 page #0 issue of the book. I’m not going to upload the pages here, because I want you to all go to the Apple store and download the app from there, when it is released. I can assure you though that it is bloody great fun! The story is highly action oriented, and the artwork was top notch!

They look to have this just right for an iPod screen, as it it isn’t overly heavy on the text, so it is easily readable, and they’ve gone nice and clean and bright on the art i.e. there isn’t a tonne of background detail etc, which might make things look cluttered on the iPod screen.

Hopefully they won’t have any distribution troubles with Apple. Apparently Apple recently removed an Application from the store that was a picture of knife - and made the psycho music when you shook it, citing ‘offensive material’ as justification. This is the cover of #0, hopefully they won’t get arsey over this:

With iPod distribution I imagine they will potentially reach a much wider audience as well. I find that British comics generally tend to fare poorly overseas, ones distributed through Image aren’t too bad usually, but when I started getting 2000ad/Extreme/JD Meg from Rebellion though my local comic shop here, it took three months for Diamond to start the order. I also have to promise the store that if I move town, I’ll give them three months notice to cancel the titles, as Diamond will just keep shipping them. Their shipping is also erratic, as I can go for weeks without receiving an issue, then end up with a pile of 4 in one week. It’s easy to see why so many British creators come across the Atlantic, the market is so much bigger, and the distribution is so much wider. Hopefully they will be able to avoid this barrier, and get this out to as many potential fans as possible.

Well, I love the art, love the story, and very much dig the concept. I’m always pleased to see people doing new things with comics. Any new format that will get new readers into the medium has got to be a good thing. I love the idea of being able to go down to the inks, then the pencils, what a cool idea! It really takes advantage of the format, something you definitely couldn’t do with PDF distribution, or some other such.

Now the comic has been submitted to Apple we’ll just have to wait and see if it is accepted. If it is, I’ll update the blog to let people know about it.


I don’t own and iPhone yet, I have a 60gb video iPod, which I’ve had about 3 years now. For some reason Canadian iPhone users are ripped off with expensive three year contracts. Before I became a resident I was only able to have a pay-as-you-go phone contract, which sucks. Now I am a resident, my wife is insisting that we get a couples mobile phone plan, so she can know where I am at all times (she is a psycho). We went to the local Fido store today (iPhone is only on Rogers, and Fido) and we were told that because we were new customers, any phone we bought would have to have a three year contract. Then the guy told me that until next week they are doing a half price deal on the monthly data fees for the iPhone. Result! My wife agreed that it was a good idea, so I am ordering one this week. Yay!


About the Creators

If you are not a reader of British comics, you can be forgiven for not knowing much about PJ Holden and Al Ewing, as most of their work hasn’t made it overseas. Let me get you up to date:

PJ Holden

Paul Jason Holden (born 28 December 2021) is a Northern Irish comic artist based in Belfast.

PJ’s art first appeared in Holy Cross #3, written by Malachy Coney, and published in 1997 though Fantagraphics. He also provided art for Suicide Kings, with Mike Carey released by Caliber in 1997.

His art was not again professionally published until 2001, when he did the art for a Judge Dredd story called “Sino-Cit” in 2000 A.D. Since then he has provided art of a number of 2000 A.D. strips, including stints on Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper. More recently PJ became the main artist on the Rogue Trooper spin-off title 86ers, with Gordon Rennie. In 2008, along with Al Ewing, he co-created the new ongoing strip Dead Signal. The first arc of which saw print in in 2000 A.D. #1581-1587.

Al Ewing

Al Ewing first entered the British comic scene in 2002, writing several Tharg’s Terror Tales in 2000 A.D. After that he did a lot of work in the British small press comic scene, some work in 2000 A.D. fanzines, and provided a few Tharg’s Future Shocks, and Tales from the Black Museum.

Recently he has returned to the pages of 2000 A.D. and Judge Dredd Megazine. This year he co-created, with Jon Davis-Hunt, the excellent Tempest strip, which appeared in Judge Dredd Megazine #266-271. He also co-created, along with PJ Holden, the new ongoing strip Dead Signal. The first arc of which saw print in in 2000 A.D. #1581-1587.

Al also has a couple of books in print through UK publishers Abadon books. These are Pax Britannia: El Sombra, and Tomes of the Dead: I, Zombie.

Al also created The Diary Of Ralph Dibny, and has been known to contribute to the gaming blog Re:Retro

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4 Responses to “iComics - The Future of Comics Brought to You by PJ Holden and Al Ewing, With Their New Comic Murderdrome”
  1. PJ Holden says:

    Thanks for the kind words - should say: if you don’t want an iPhone - it’ll work JUST as well in the iPod touch - which doesn’t have any monthly fees with it


  2. Edward Kaye says:

    This is true. I have a 60gb iPod Video though, and I’d feel wasteful chucking that out for a touch. If they did the touch with a bigger HD I’d consider it though, as my 60gb is pretty full up.

    Also, I do need a phone, if only for emergencies. Oh, and of course internet browsing is a bonus


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. [...] You may remember that last month I did a sneak peek of the iPhone/iPod touch comic Murderdrome by Al Ewing and PJ Holden. Sadly, Murderdrome was rejected from Apple’s Application store for [...]

  2. [...] Well, I blogged about this great idea just the other day, but it seems that Apple will not allow the comic to be distributed through their iPhone store, [...]

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